3-Minute Interview: Ed Harrington

The new general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission started work April 1. The CPA, who had been San Francisco’s controller since 1991, will share his thoughts on the PUC’s future at a breakfast this morning hosted by the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association.

When did you start working for The City? In the March of 1984 in the PUC. In 1991, I became controller, and I was controller for 17 years. Before that, I worked for KPMG and I was in charge of the audit of San Francisco’s Clean Water Project.

How does your new job differ from your previous job? The controller has to know a lot about everything that’s going on in The City, so you have time to know something about an inch to a foot deep. This will give me the chance to go 100 feet deep on topics. At the Controller’s Office, much of what I did was advise people on how you do business. Here, I can do the business.

What are your priorities at the PUC? Priorities one, two and three are all about the water-system improvement project [which will protect the system from earthquakes]. The big thing I want to do is really get my arms around the schedule. If we’re taking this pipeline down, we have to make sure these pipelines are up and running.

Do you expect to build gas-burning power plants to replace a more-polluting plant in Potrero Hill? Right now, the commission, the mayor and the Board of Supervisors have all said they want to go ahead. While people don’t really like the idea of building additional power plants in San Francisco, it’s considered the most environmentally safe thing to do so. Unless they change their minds, we’re going to go ahead and try to do that.

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